SMYRNA – An advisory panel that met with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens in Albany last Thursday included Supervisor James B. Bays, D-Smyrna, via teleconference.
Bays is one of five new panel members added just days prior to the first of the DEC’s High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel’s seven planned meetings. The now 18-member panel is charged with making recommendations to ensure that the DEC, other agencies and local governments possess adequate resources to properly oversee and monitor all hydraulic fracturing activities as outlined in the preliminary revised draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement that was released in July.
A DEC spokesperson said the new members were added upon further reflection of the original panel’s make-up (formed with the release of the SGEIS) and after taking input from groups that questioned it. Bays, who has been designated to represent the New York State Association of Towns, said he couldn’t make the trip to Albany on such short notice.
According to the Smyrna supervisor, the DEC’s Division of Water, Minerals and Air dominated the panel’s discussion with a presentation of its resource needs, and the remaining time was consumed by people “talking in generalities” about air quality, the protection and safety of water resources, hauling and disposal of wastewater, road usage and drilling permits.
The DEC has been forced to cut more than 850 full-time positions since the recession took hold in the spring of 2008. Both Bays and NYS 51st District Senator Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, an original member of the panel, reported yesterday that additional staffing was recommended not only for the DEC’s main offices, but also for satellite offices in the field. No specific numbers were determined, however.
Libous said he suspected that DEC Region 7, with its main office in Syracuse and sub-offices in Sherburne, Kirkwood and Cortland, may have to add workers in the field.